Can I add wood shavings to soil to loosen it?

General    None Given

I was considering adding some wood shavings to the soil in my back yard to try and loosen it a little, it gets very compacted and I would like to do something to make it a bit more manageable. Are wood shavings a good addition, what will they do to the pH?

Posted by: Tucker123 (1 point) Tucker123
Posted: March 24, 2013


When you mix a bunch of carboniferous material into the soil, the microbes start throwing a party. They scrape up every bit of nitrogen they can find and go to town. The woody material will break down after a while... and the nitrogen will hit the soil again... but it can take some time.

In really tough soil... when I don't feel like double-digging, I put down cardboard, then stack leaves, wood chips, compost, etc. on top of it, then wait a year. That's basically the "Ruth Stout" or "Lasagna gardening" method. The material crushes weeds and attracts worms like you wouldn't believe. They in turn become your tillers. I turned a patch of rocky clay into rich, loamy soil that way... but it took one year to become nice ground... and another year to reach its peak.

Posted by: David Goodman (67 points) David Goodman
Posted: March 25, 2013

It would be better to add it to compost; it is a potent carbon source. Also, it would be more prudent to add the compost to the beds seasonally and when needed, but if you just have a little bit, go ahead and spread it in the soil. It can be layered on top as a mulch if you have an abundant amount, or mixed in if the beds are still being worked!

Posted by: K.L. (5 points) K.L.
Posted: March 25, 2013

I've seen some CSA's use wood shavings and sawdust to try to rehab fallow fields. The increased carbon helps get a great microcosm started and it will definitely aerate the soil. Are you attempting this for a garden or just lawn or general fields? Incorporating it into the soil would be best so the current microflora can work on it right away.

Posted by: Kathryn Fiedler (72 points) Kathryn Fiedler
Posted: March 26, 2013

I'm curious about the quantity and coarseness of the shavings.

I have added saw dust over a inch thick coating from poplar boards to beds to increase organic matter and water holding capacity and have grown in them after adding some blood meal for nitrogen with no negative impacts seen.

Also turned in 2 inch layer of cedar wood chips ( 1"- 2" chunks) in a different bed after using them as a top mulch for a year. That year I had a tough time growing in the bed.

I wouldn't be afraid of adding a small amounts turned in or added as a mulch. The added organic matter should work to help correct your compaction however you choose to use it.

Posted by: Wurgulf (1 point) Wurgulf
Posted: March 28, 2013

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